Four retirees of Amalgamated Sugar Co. have asked a federal judge to include about 150 other people in a class-action suit against the company.
Federal District Judge J. Thomas Green has taken under advisement a motion by the men. If Green agrees, the plaintiffs' attorneys say they will gain access to records they need to prove Amalgamated improperly took money from a pension plan.Amalgamated's sugar beet-processing plants in Twin Falls and Paul employ about 800 people during its processing season.
"That's probably the only way we can get all the information on all these employees," said Claudia Berry, attorney for the four.
Amalgamated and its owner, Texas businessman Harold Simmons, oppose the motion.
In 1986, Amalgamated split its pension plan between employees and retirees, called a "spinoff-termination." When the plan was divided, it had about $12.8 million. Since $8.4 million was required to pay off the retirees, the extra $4.4 million went to the company.
Amalgamated says the move is sanctioned by federal law. But the retirees argue the pension plan required the company to divide excess money between the company and its retirees if the plan was ever terminated.
The two sides have agreed that 158 people were affected by the spinoff.
One of the original four plaintiffs, Jack R. Holland, lives in Twin Falls. The other possible plaintiffs are believed to live in the Ogden or Twin Falls areas.